All That Slithers

One good thing about the rain is the absence of snakes. They appear to like it about as much as I do and tend to stay indoors, probably in bed. But you can’t count on it. A neighbor told me he had seen one in his compost pile in the dead of winter with frost on its head.

I am trawling the Internet for a way to clear copyright on a photo I want to use for an article when my girlfriend Georgia calls to drag me off to the beach for a dog walk. As an afterthought she adds that she just found a snake skeleton and skin inside her bathroom. She thought it was just a python, harmless unless you are a small dog or cat or crocodile.

A nine foot python ate a very large croc the other week. Not around here thankfully. Our pythons don’t usually get much bigger than 6 feet and mostly mind their own business. They eat the rats which eat the bananas thereby enjoying a sort of rodent smoothie.  When it’s sunny they like to stretch out on the tin roof side by side like girls on the beach.

Most beaches around here tolerate nudity, toplessness or the full burkini if that is your go – and it’s not uncommon to see a lovely tan gal striding into the waves butt naked. You will never catch me naked on a beach. Not because of modesty but because there are SNAKES on the beach. Not harmless pythons but Eastern Browns, the second most deadly snake in the world. They live and mate in the sand dunes and sometimes will slither down and give you a quick nip.

My friend Helena who sports a nice all-over all-year tan was lying face down in the sand last summer when she felt something hit her on the back of the leg. By the time she’d rolled over, whatever it was had gone and just two small puncture marks remained. Being a girl who has lived in very remote and primitive conditions throughout the world she doesn’t panic easily. Instead she (quite) calmly drove herself to Byron Bay hospital where they confirmed that her assailant was most likely an Eastern Brown snake.  Fortunately for Helena it wasn’t suffering from PMS that day and just gave her a warning “dry strike.”

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Had it unleashed its venom she could have died on the way back to the car park.

George the Snakeman who has caught over two thousand Eastern Browns over the past 14 years told me he had been called some years ago to get one out of the ATM machine in downtown Byron. That’s a withdrawal with a difference. George will go anywhere to catch a snake for the price of a donation. You know it’s him arriving because he has SNAKEMAN written across his truck – and in case you miss that and mistake him for the Avon Lady  the words SNAKEMAN are also written in bold white letters in the shape of a cross on his big black leather boots.

In the trunk of the truck is a large see-through box full of writhing snakes. Recently he was at war with another snake catcher who had the gall to call himself the Snakeman.  It became very venomous before it was somehow all resolved, but it just goes to show that even snake catchers have to worry about copyright.

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